What Even is Capcom's Motive Behind the New Mega Man Cartoon?
There’s a new Mega Man cartoon coming out in 2018 on Cartoon Network. To really understand why this is so questionable we have to look back at how Capcom has handled the franchise over the last decade.
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The last new Mega Man game, Mega Man 10, was released in 2010, over 7 years ago. Recent years have only seen ports. 2010 also saw a solid port of the Mega Man Zero series to the DS. 2015 saw the release of the Mega Man Legacy Collection, which featured the first 6 games in the classic series. Reviews were generally good for these collections.
At the beginning of 2017, we received the same 6 classic Mega Man games as ports onto iOS and Android. Not only does Mega Man’s control scheme not work well on touchscreens, but these ports also had choppy framerates, which were even visible in trailers for the game.
This is the environment Capcom had decided to release a Mega Man themed cartoon into. The environment where most of the kids watching it have never had a new Mega Man game released in their lifetime. And where all the parents that LOVED the franchise throughout their life are seething with rage at how Capcom has treated the series for the last decade.
20XX, I mean 2011
A Year of Cancellations
So you might wonder why exactly Capcom has decided to stop making new Mega Man games. It all started on October 29, 2010, when longtime Capcom producer, Keiji Inafune, who many consider being the creator of Mega Man, decided to leave Capcom. At this point, several different Mega Man games were in development, most notably Mega Man Legends 3.
Mega Man Legends 3 was set to become a huge landmark in game development history, as Capcom had invited fans to take a huge role in the game’s development. They helped select designs for several characters in the game, submitted the designs for other characters, selected voice over’s for some characters, etc. In return, the game’s developers were extremely transparent about the game’s development.
A fan-made boss featured in the Mega Man Legends 3 Prototype. Source.
Capcom had promised that a prototype version would be released alongside the Nintendo 3DS’s e-shop and that this would be used to gauge fan interest. However, the service launched while the prototype was delayed; the game and prototype were eventually canceled. Chris Hoffman of Nintendo Power was the only journalist to play the Prototype and said “the Prototype Version seemed ready to go,” after having spent ~3 hours with it and playing all of the missions.
Canceling the game seemed like an odd business decision for Capcom as they could have released the Prototype and been the only 3DS exclusive title on the e-shop for almost 6 months. This was made worse by a couple tweets from Capcom Euro that seemingly blamed a lack of fan support for the game’s cancellation. (Damned fans, not carrying their own weight around here. You know, I have to say I get what they mean. My commenters almost never write my articles for me!)
Capcom also canceled Mega Man Universe after only a year in development, which was basically Mario Maker except for 5 years earlier. During previews, the art style and controls were both critiqued. The game was said to have undergone significant changes prior to being canceled; however, these were never shown to the public. (Indeed, not existing anymore is a pretty big life change.)
Around the same time, they also canceled a gritty FPS reboot, called Mega Man Maverick Hunter, that featured developers from the acclaimed Metroid Prime series before it had ever been announced.
A Korean-made MMO, Mega Man Online, was also canceled. (Although not before releasing 2 amazing animated trailers. If the new TV show looked that awesome, I think a lot of people would be pumped.).
The second trailer can be found here.
The Next Timeless Classic. Trust me; I've got a nose for these things
Alas, we know our voices have been heard because we have been treated to this beautiful cartoon. It is everything fans have wanted from Mega Man and more! Screw all that convoluted button pressing and boss beating.
Let's face it; he's more Mega Boy than Mega Man now...
Just look at how close it is to the source material. Mega Man is a normal robot boy, named Aki Light, who figures out that he can turn into Mega Man. He then has to hide his alternate identity and balance being a hero with being a normal boy! Wait, that’s not Mega Man, that’s Spider-Man. Damn it!
At least when Sonic got the cartoon treatment, Sega acted like they remembered where Sonic came from by making some DAMNED games. The fact that they were shitty cash grabs is sorta beside the point. They didn’t HAVE to be shitty cash grabs; they could have been good games.
Make no mistakes, Capcom is also trying to use this cartoon to get parent’s money.
”We believe Mega Man’s incredible heritage and proven popularity also positions the brand extremely well for longer term consumer product opportunities,” said Ken Faier, who helps manage distribution and licensing for the new cartoon as DHX Media’s executive producer of content, in the same press release that announced the show’s impending arrival on Cartoon Network next year.
Capcom doesn’t listen to us when we say,”Megaman is popular and beloved. He will sell products!” Yet their business partners use the same argument. This is a double slap in the face.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate Capcom for the way it has treated Mega Man over the last decade, especially since Keiji Inafune left the company. But all I want from them, all any of the fan base wants from them, are new Mega Man games (preferably quality ones).
I want them to be successful in their Mega Man related endeavors, I really do. However, I don’t particularly want a cartoon after 7 years without any new games, especially if it is a shitty cartoon. Although I am harsh concerning preliminary details concerning the show, I am holding final verdict until I actually get to watch it.
Star Vs. The Forces of Evil's OST is ripe with bit music.
That being said, Steven Universe, Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, and Adventure Time all represent a template for a show influenced by video games that feature quality writing that is enjoyable by audiences of all ages. (Just imagine what you could do with a show actually based on a video game!) I certainly hope Capcom has been taking notes, but I am almost 100% sure they haven’t. I guess this cartoon can’t be any worse than the original Mega Man TV series from 1994.
And hope hangs on by a thread
In the meantime many people have been hankering for a new Megaman game, myself included. The developers of the excellent Megaman Zero series, the solid Megaman Advent series, and the well-regarded Mega Man 9 & 10 releases have gone on to create the Azure Striker Gunvolt series (Note: Mega Man is called the blue bomber. Azure is a shade of blue. Striker is a synonym to bomber.) Both of these entries have fared relatively well, both critically and commercially.
Keiji Inafune also kickstarted Mighty Number 9, which was similarly a “technically not a Mega Man game, but totally is a Mega Man game”. Despite it not actually being a great game, the Kickstarter raised over $3 million dollars. Fans put money where their mouth was and told Capcom,” if you are not going to give us the Mega Man game that we want, then we will go elsewhere,” in this case, it just happened to be to one of the franchise's creators.
Between Azure Striker’s moderate success, Mighty Number 9’s high profile pre-release success, fans’ continued demands for new Mega Man titles, and DHX Media's executive producer of content there is one thing that is clear: there is a market for the blue bomber yet.